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Looking at “Lifetime Guarantees”

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I'm in the market for a fence. It be so very nice to be able to let my dog out into the back yard instead of walking him on a leash. So we looked up a fence contractor, picked out a fence, and had our pen out to sign on the dotted line, when my wife asked a great question:

What's the warranty on this fence?

The answer was: There is a lifetime warranty. That's pretty sweet, right? Hard to go wrong with that. The natural question I had was, "Whose lifetime and how does it work?" These are the things that I'm curious about. Could I have my 6-month old put his hand print on the contract and funnel the payment through his bank account?

Turns out that the warranty is for the owner of the house, so that won't work. As our home, is co-owned, I assume that it's the lifetime of whoever lives longer, but maybe I should read the details on that.

The thing that really struck me as odd though, is that the warranty is void if we sell the house to someone else. This just didn't seem right to me. The fence company shouldn't care who lives in the house. They shouldn't get out easy if I'm house flipper. Furthermore, if we do sell the house, the fence is an asset, and it would nice if that asset some time left on the warranty.

In the end, it probably doesn't matter too much. The warranty only covers defects and I think those would be evident relatively quickly. The thing that's mostly likely to be a problem is the weather, and acts of God aren't covered in the warranty.

Readers, should I look for a different fence company or just suck it up and deal?

Posted on April 24, 2013.

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6 Responses to “Looking at “Lifetime Guarantees””

  1. Steve says:

    Excessively long term warranties, including “lifetime”, are nothing more than a sales gimmick. The only reason you might want to avoid them is because sometimes, the cost of that excessive warranty is built into the price of the product. But if the product is otherwise competitively priced, having a pointless bullet point on their sales brochure shouldn’t hurt.

  2. This is something I always curious about myself. Good to know. I think you should stick to them if you think the product is worth it.

  3. Money Beagle says:

    We just finished getting a new roof on our house and they go through the same gimmick with shingles. The roofer told us that our shingles that he tore off should be covered under a warranty as they are 25 year shingles and the house is only 15 years old. Sure enough, that would only apply if we were the original owners (we’re the third). Same with the warranty we got. It actually will transfer once, though it immediately reduces the coverage, and after one transfer that too is 100% null.

  4. Matt G says:

    So, you could say you’re on the fence with lifetime warranties? /sorry

    Usually an offer of a lifetime warranty means that the product doesn’t need a warranty or that it’s very limited in its scope.

  5. […] with a “Lifetime Guarantee” but wondered what it really meant? Lazy Man and Money discovered something that may be of interest to […]

  6. […] Looking at “Lifetime” Guarantees – Be sure to read the fine print. More often than not, “lifetime” only applies to the original owner. […]

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